Monday, September 7, 2009
Recently an article written by Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine asserted that the Republican party needed to be more inclusive, especially of moderates. It evoked some responses by readers calling for more blood-letting among the Republicans. Because she was bemoaning the loss of Arlen Specter (Republican senator turned Democrat) and calling for the inclusion of more moderate Republicans in the party, Snowe was berated by some who commented about that article.
The Republican philosophy expressed by a couple of those who commented was no surprise to me. They want to purge the party further of moderates like Snowe. The trouble with those seeking party unity, by exclusion, is that they seem to have an inside track on the definition of "purity". Like religious fundamentalists, everyone else is wrong, unless they agree with "me". Sooner or later this game of musical chairs (i.e., excluding the outliers) will inevitably end up with only one player.
I can see an end to the Republican party in eight to twelve years--surely by 2030, if this philosophy of exclusion is continued. (Parties do die off, have done so numerous times in history). The current appeal to "puritanism" (e.g., in the past exemplified by the Pharisees and the Puritans) and its process of distillation, will lead to an even more extremist political position. The current views of such as Beck, Bachman, Limbaugh, Palin and Steele (who echoes whatever is the current theme) is beckoning the Republicans to jump, lemming-like, off the cliff.
The solid Republican leaders of the past, like Reagan, Dole, Dirksen and Eisenhower, would not tolerate the current tsunami of ridicule, distortions and veiled-prejudice being bandied about by the current crop of GOP political "leaders". No Republican today is showing political "statesmanship. It seems they would rather be re-elected than to stand up for decency, reasonableness and fairness.
There has usually been an historical balance in the conservative voice. A balance with solid fiscal policy, domestic security, military strength and gentlemanly respect for political opponents (both domestic and foreign). There is a present day need for that same balance. One person I am aware of seems to be speaking that that message. Although I switch my TV channel when he goes into one of his rants, I admire Joe Scarborough. He has avoided, for the most part, the hyperbolic, poisonous language of the right-wing birthers, end-or-lifers, the school indoctrinators. He has not put forth a "chicken little" mentality about America.
If the sensible conservatives emerge in a new party, after the GOP demise, Scarborough could be one of the leaders-- If he were able to shed the fanatical extremists (certainly not all those on the right), or at least control their craziness, And if he were to learn to listen better.
Right now there is not a single Republican I would vote for. None of those w ho are prominent on the national scene (of which I am aware) show statesmanlike principles needed by our country.
Can you put forth the name of a Republican who follows the highest leadership principles?.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
A recent email discussion among a group of my fraternity brothers (we were in college together over forty years ago) has centered on the issue of whether Fox News or MSNBC news presents a truthful image of what is going on in the world. I wrote the following:
Have you missed something important (by not watching Bill O’Reilly, Keith Obermann, Sean Hannity, Chris Matthews, Glenn Beck, or Rachel Maddow)? I don't know.
I believe that truth is relative to each individual and that we perceive "truth" through filtered eyes. We are prejudiced in favor of those values we hold and which have been incorporated in us throughout our life.
Theologically, I have been taught that arriving at the truth meant trusting an authoritative source (Scripture and Church tradition) and tempering them with Reason and Experience. Politically we do something similar: grounded in authoritative documents and historical figures and events, we use our Reason to arrive at values which are ratified by our Experience.
But, we all utilize those factors based on our own unique understanding of what is true. Are people basically good or bad? Can we trust a particular political leader or news commentator? Is "Big government" and/or "Big Business" good or bad? Is life black or white, good or evil (disjunctive) or is it a blending, both black and white, good and evil (conjunctive)? How we respond to issues like those, form the bases for our individual value systems.
And we seek out, as conduits for our link with the outside world, those sources who share to some degree our basic values. So, they reinforce our prejudices, our relative understandings of what is going in the body politic.
My prejudice is that all entities operate in their own best interest. And those which have tremendous power (both government and business) pursue goals which insure their own self-interests. At the moment, the forces aligned with Obama are battling with the health insurance industry. In the middle are the members of Congress, the lobbyists and all of us (the people). Each side, I am certain, believes in the "rightness" of its efforts. Each wants to preserve its own existence. The basic issue is, which "side" has a set of values and goals which will produce the most good for most of the people?
And we all line up on one side or the other based on our own prejudiced opinions. Or, we stand in the middle of all the stormy propaganda, not sure what is best. Or, we simply do our best to ignore the whole mess.
I choose to listen to Rachel Maddow and take her for my most trusted commentator. She is very intelligent, researches her stories very well, has authoritative persons as interviewees, and speaks the truth to power. But those evaluations are based on my own prejudice. Others might say the same for Bill O'Reilly. Of course, we do not give complete trust to them, but they are trusted to tell us the "truth".
I could give you a long list of reasons why I think our lives will be negatively impacted if the health insurance companies win. Others could balance my thoughts with their own.
If you or I limit our news input primarily to Fox or MSNBC we may or may not have missed something by not listening to the other commentators I named. But, if an informed citizenry is important, some means of being connected to the body politic and it's issues is important. Unfortunately, in our polarized political environment, polemics dominate all news, and that means we all must listen and evaluate with sharp discernment--knowing that, at best, what we hear is only partial truth.
I do believe I am right. But then, John Wesley said, "No man will hold an opinion which he thinks is wrong."
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Friday used the word Republicans do not want to hear: reconciliation. That word, as used in the US Congress, is not an attempt to build harmony or friendship, bur is a demand that the minority party submit unwillingly to the majority.."It is certainly on the table", said Schumer*.
Reconciliation is a legislative procedure whereby passage of the pending health care legislation could require, not 60 normal votes, but instead only 51. It would also cut off the possibility of any filibuster of the matter before Congress.
While the hope has existed for a compromise plan in various Senate committees, Democratic leaders have been careful not to talk about reconciliation. But when the Senate recessed this past week, Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont), Chairman of Senate Finance, had not been able to forge a consensus from his committee members. That deadlock brought forth some talk about the use of the reconciliation procedure.
Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D-Nev) said Friday that “We don’t want to use reconciliation unless we have to. I hope we don’t have to.” The White House insisted on Thursday (8-6) that it was open to the use of a parliamentary procedure that would prevent health care reform from being filibustered by the GOP.
The idea of imposing reconciliation is not comforting to Senator Mike Enzi a Wyoming Republican. He said, “I’m afraid that if reconciliation winds up in the [health care] budget bill, it’ll be like a declaration of war.”
Some Senators have expressed the idea that a "Reconciliation Bill" could be brought to the floor of the Senate if it were reported out of committe in that form. That is correct, but what happens at that point is debatable. When the bill reaches the floor, any Senator may offer amendments or rise to a point of order and challenge whether any part of the bill is "extraneous". Any challenged "extraneous" part would be striken from the bill if less than 60 Senators (assuming 100 preent) voted to support it. This activity is called the "Byrd Bath" (see below).
The remaining bill can then get only twenty hours of debate, and amendments are limited. An up-and-down vote then follows with fifty-one (51) votes carrying the bill. There are some restrictions imposed on budget-related portions of the bill.
What is the Byrd Bath?
In 1985-1986 a procedure called the "Byrd Rule" was adopted by the Senate. The rule provided six definitions that judge a provision of a reconciliation bill to be "extraneous". They are
- if it does not produce a change in outlays or revenues;
- if it produces an outlay increase or revenue decrease when the instructed committee is not in compliance with its instructions;
- if it is outside the jurisdiction of the committee that submitted the title or provision for inclusion in the reconciliation measure;
- if it produces a change in outlays or revenues which is merely incidental to the non-budgetary components of the provision;
- if it would increase the deficit for a fiscal year beyond those covered by the reconciliation measure, though the provisions in question may receive an exception if they in total in a Title of the measure net to a reduction in the deficit; and
- if it recommends changes in Social Security.
Again, any provision of the bill determined to be extraneous will be stripped from the bill, unless 60 Senators vote to waive the objection. The process of "scrubbing" through the original bill in search of extraneous provisions is referred to as the Byrd Bath.**
Because of the possibility that numerous items, based on the above provisions, could be striken from a reonciliation bill Senator Kent Conrad, (D-ND) has said the end result with be a Health Care bill that looked like Swiss cheese, because there could be so many holes in it.*** The Republicans could be so angry over the attempt to force through a sweeping Health Care plan that they would probably nit-pick the legislation to death.
“Most of the big public policy stuff, which is really important, would not survive the Byrd Rule,” said Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, the senior Republican on the Budget Committee and someone who could be counted on to use his expertise to make reconciliation as difficult as possible for Democrats.
But there is a potential way around the Byrd Rule:****
Democrats are examining an unusual "two-track" approach. First, some of the most controversial parts of the health plan--taxes, fees, savings from existing federal programs---would be packaged in one "extraneous-free" reconciliation bill and passed by a simple majority. Second all the policy changes and program expansions would be treated like an ordinary bill. As such it would be subject to filibuster and amendment. But these parts of the bill would be popular enough to get the 60 votes, overcome a filibuster, and,what-do-you know: a health care bill.
Of course, there are still bumps in the road. If some senators are angry that the first bill squeaks through, they might not want to help to pass the second one, whether they like it or not
“No matter what happens, we’re going to enact health care reform by the end of the year,” Sentor said Schumer.
Major questions still remain unanswered: Will there be some form of public option in that bill?” Will the final form of the bill have some means of limiting the costs of the health insurance policies? Will people be protected from having their policies terminated if they become sick with a "high-treatment-cost" illness?
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*** http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=132x8465604 c. 8-07-9
**** http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/02/us/politics/02hulse.html copied 8-08-09.
Friday, August 7, 2009
A very interesting piece I first saw on Rachel Maddow's show, August 5, puts the question to Senator Ben Nelson, (D-Nebr): Are you on the side of the small business owners of Nebraska, or, are you on the side of the Health Insurance Companies?
An ad is running in Nebraska, "Who's side are you on?" addressed to Senator Nelson. It features a restaurant owner in Ralston, Nebraska who just received notice that his insurance premiums were going up 42% the coming year. Here is a realistic look at the plight of the small business owner. Check out the ad .
So, Senator Nelson says that if this type of publicity about Health Care reform continues, the whole project may be dead by the end of August. In essence he is saying: Attack my position and I might just kill the entire thing.
President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers* last Saturday (August 1) stressed these points:
- Small businesses (those with less than 100 employees) employ around 30% of all uninsured Americans.
- If small businesses are able to insure their employees, they pay 18% higher premiums than large companies pay.
- Right now (the status quo) health care is priced out of reach for most small businesses.
That’s why President Obama is arguing for a public option in the current debate. Unless some means of making insurance companies compete is included in the proposed plans, the insurance companies will have free reign to raise premiums and deductibles and refuse service. Those practices are absolutely necessary in order for them to increase profits and satisfy shareholders---and pay legislators to do their bidding.
Your comments below are appreciated.
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*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090725/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_obama_health_care copied on 8-7-09..
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
While corporate lobbying firms instruct people how to disrupt town hall meetings across America, the fate of a fair and effective Health Care system continues to be debated outside the range of angry voices.
I hope you have seen Bill Moyers Journal episode featuring a former Cigna executive, Weldon Potter. If you have not seen it, go to the next article down and click on the link to Moyers' Journal. It is the best information available on the methods used by health insurance companies to protect their profit margins at the expense of human life and health.
Below are three clips about health care. A couple of years ago, Michael Moore appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show and they discussed the movie Sicko and American healthcare. So here's the first clip: Michael & Oprah (This video requires Quicktime 7, which you can download free here.)
The second clip is last Monday’s “Special Comment “ by Keith Obermann, Countdown, MSNBC, in which he takes on a number of congressmen who take beaucoup dollars from health care companies. Those companies, in turn make decisions that greatly harm the congressmen’s true constituents. That clip can be seen at: Legislators for Sale
The last video is from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart looking at various cable commentators discussing the importance of Obama passing a health care plan.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~THANKS to ONE GOOD MOVE (www.onegoodmove.org ) for these clips.
The movie Sicko is available at Netflix, probably at Blockbusters and other DVD rental stores. You may remember the Health Care Insurance companies spent a lot of money bashing Michael Moore and the movie.
The Health Care debate is the most important issue before the Congress since the discussion over the Iraq war. I have been on Medicare for the past three years and am very pleased with it. I would be okay with a single-payer plan for all, like Medicare.
If you have an insurance plan, and you develop some costly illness, you may find yourself in economic quicksand. This is not true for everyone; but it is true for many. And the cost of your insurance. What was it five years ago? What will it be five years from now? I can remember when I was working that we would get a pay raise, and at the same time our insurance would go up more than the raise. Has that happened to you? We really cannot keep on with the way things are. More and more people are losing their insurance (can’t afford it; or, their employer cannot afford it), or finding their deductions going up and up. Talk with folks around you and see what their experience with health care insurance is.
The level of distortions and untruths being spread about the various proposals in Washington is appalling. Even more distressing are the number people who believe that “killing grandparents” is in the works, or that our current system is the best in the world, or that the government would decide if you got a certain kind of treatment.
Scary? Are you afraid? That’s what the fear-mongers want. Their propaganda is designed to build a level of paranoia and fear. If they can keep us from making any changes in our health care system, they win. You lose. They know that. Do you?
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Health Care reform is currently the most crucial item before our nation for debate. Unfortunately, much of the information we get is produced and published by Health Insurance interests.
The clip below will take you to Bill Moyers' Journal and give you the opportunity to hear the other side. If you will take the time to watch a couple of the videos you will learn some sides of this debate you may not have yet heard.
Click on Moyers' Journal
[at the site, click on "archive" thenthe "Wendall Potter" video, and, the small white arrow on the bottom band of the video.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
A young man had just gotten a job in a bookstore and was very excited about having found work. Early in the day he listened carefully as his supervisor explained his duties:
- opening the boxes of new books in the back room,
- placing those books on the appropriate shelves,
- straightening up the shelves,
- helping customers find books for which they were looking
- helping customers to check out if the lines became long, and
- at the end of his day, vacuuming the floor and taking out the trash.
He loved his job very much because there was plenty of extra time to visit with people. And, he found that if he stayed close to the Religious Books section, he could easily find customers who wanted to talk about God and Jesus.. What could be more important than that? He seemed to lose himself in his conversations.
At the end of the day, his supervisor walked him through the store and discovered the boxes of new books were unopened, the books already on the shelves were out of order, several customers had complained that they could get no one to help them find a book, the floor was not vacuumed and the trash was overflowing.
Pointing out these undone tasks to the new employee, the supervisor was surprised to hear, “But I was talking about God and Jesus. What could be more important than that?”
Christian Embassy, a ministry to government and military elites, is a is a correlative venture of The Family.* It produced a short video on faith and diplomacy following September 11, 2001. The video seems to endorse deliberate negligence of duty. It featured:
- Dan Cooper , Undersecretary of defense, “evangelizing activities are more important than doing the job.
- General Jack Catton (testifying in uniform, an apparent violation of military regulations) “My first priority is my faith; God before country.”
- Representative John Carter, (R-Texas) Commenting on governmental trips to Africa and Eastern Europe, “We were congressmen goin’ over there to represent the Lord. We are here to tell you about Jesus . . . and that’s it.”
The prayer cells (Organized by The Family) in the State Department are encouraged by Christian Embassy, not to explain US positions, but to leave visiting diplomats with a personal relationship with the King of Kings, Jesus Christ. Commandant of West Point, Brigadier General Bob Caslen has said, “We are the aroma of Jesus”.
UPDATE: You may see this video at the website: Jews on First . Scroll down a couple of pages to "Christian Embassy Promotional Video" and click. I am not familiar with this web site but it appears to have quite a bit of material opposing the Christian Right's military and governmental efforts.
As worthy a task as evangelism may be, within the Christian community, I find it to be a corrupting factor for a military person to advocate allegiance to God over country. The defense of our nation must be the top priority of any military person.
I also find it threatening to the security of our nation, that a group of high-ranking military officers might take it upon themselves to believe that God might want them to do something contrary to the best interest of our government. If you think that is crazy talk, just listen to the sacrosanct words of the spokespersons for the Christian Right today (Obama’s presidency is illegitimate, the government wants to kill old people, murder of doctor’s performing abortions is okay, etc.)
If the work behavior of the young man in the bookstore continued in the way he started, he would justifiably be fired. The same discipline needs to be applied to the zealots who refuse to do their job in favor of evangelizing.
Your comments (click below) are appreciated.
*Christian Embassy was founded by Bill Bright (Campus Crusade for Christ) and Congressman John Conlan (R-Ariz, 1973-1977). The material in this and the next paragraph (above) is taken from Jeff Sharlet’s THE FAMILY: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, (New York: Harper Perennial, 2008) p. 353f.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
I have a friend who is very conservative. He thinks Michael Moore speaks hate talk. And another friend is a liberal and thinks Ann Coulter is a person who hates. The interesting thing is that the conservative does not think Coulter is hateful and the liberal does not think Moore is full of hate.
So, it seems to me that we all may identify different people as angry, hostile folks who wish hurt and ridicule upon others; but depending upon our own political perception we may have one list if we are right wing and another list if we are left wing.
Please help sort this out by saying:
- if you are liberal; and who all do you think speaks hateful words on our national scene; and,
- if you are conservative and who all do you point to as a hater.
You may have many "haters" on your list; please suggest them all.
At some point I hope to write a piece on the hatemongers and the role they play on our political scene.
Use the "comment" section below to record your response, or send an email to me at:
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
This article was first published elsewhere in March 2009).
My opinion is that those who oppose same-sex marriage do so on religious grounds, not because of legal civil unions. I have not heard the opponents of gay marriage say they want to deny gays/lesbians the rights to visit a "friend" in the hospital, share resources, have legal status shared, and to have all the rights of survivorship.. What they don't want, more than anything else is to have their church perform a 'marriage' ceremony.
I am a retired minister in the United Methodist Church. My church, like most other main-liners says it is against the church law for a clergyperson to perform or bless a homosexual union.
But, there are chuches who will perform a same-sex marriage ceremony. I believe the Metro Church, the United Church of Christ and others will do so.
If we let "marriage" be done at the discretion of a church most church members would be okay with whatever their church dictated. [I know many members would not, but stay with me for a minute.] Surely no church member would want to impose their religous understanding upon another church.
Whenever I would conduct a wedding ceremony, I would sign the wedding license (issued by the state) and the couple would have to take it to the courthouse and register their married status. So far as I know it has always been that way (forever and ever and ever, Amen. :=} ).
So, let us require that "marriages" must be done by a clergyman (or justice of peace, judge, ship captain, etc.) and let the legal processing of that union be done by the state.
Marriage in the church (religious authority); civil union by the state (civil authority).
What right would any religious body have to intefere in the state's role?
from Newsweek, "Perspectives" (March 16, 2009) p. 25:
"If you 're in the marriage business, do it equally. If your're not going to do it equally, then get out of the marriage business." --Michael Maroko, a California lawyer for same-sex couples, on a judges proposal to issue licenses for civil unions to all couples, and leaving "marriage" to the faith community.
Sounds like a plan.
Each individual church (or denomination) could decide whether it would allow same-sex marriages. The state would process the legal contract. Any pastor (or specified leader) or any other authorized official could perform the marriage, according to the dictates of their own conscience. The state's role would only be to record the union in their records, thus authenticating the legal union.
The state would not interfere with religious matters, and the churches would not interfere with secular, state matters.
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Hate Crimes United States Attorney-General Eric Holder urged the Congress to step up the passage of federal hate crime legislation. "The rising tide of criminal activity fueled by bias and bigotry must be addressed."
Gay (Human) Rights President Obama assured gay rights leaders Monday (6-29) that he continues to work for repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy which governs participation in the military.
Defense SpendingJune 25 (Bloomberg) -- The Senate Armed Services Committee today (6-25) added money to the Pentagon’s fiscal 2010 budget to buy seven more Lockheed Martin Corp.The Pentagon and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates opposes the spending proposal and the Obama administration threatened to veto any legislation that contains them. [Smells like pork: defense establishment: "we don't need them,nor want them". Congress: "We need to keep the jobs in our home states."
Sunday, June 28, 2009
This morning (Sunday) on "Face the Nation", Bob Schieffer drew the distinction between a national hero and a pop star icon. He said that we have monuments in Washington honoring those persons we admire: Lincoln, Washington and Jefferson, along with the WWII monument. A nation is defined by the heroes it honors.
Schieffer went on to say that he once took his daughters to a MJ concert and concluded that the star did have talent and it was a fine concert.
Then Scheiffer nailed the way I have felt about Jackson, his life and his death.
His tortured existence, his devotion to excess, to celebrity, and, for lack of a better word, his "weirdness" seemed to me to be an example of how not to live one's life.
I have seen very little of the cable coverage of all this uproar. I imagine the cable neetworks can make a lot of money with little production costs just by by waiting for a coroner, an ems person, a doctor, friends or admireres to step up to the camera and tell us what they have done or how they feel; and, to speculate on the use of drugs, was it homicide, who will get "his" kids.
Talk about formula, cheapo coverage. It looks just like the fixation the networks had over Anna Nicole Smith's death. This excessive coverage has a somewhat "ghoulish" quality to it. Both Smith and Jackson had some serious perversions they dealt with; and we gather, like vultures, waiting to peck off a hunk of flesh and fly away.
The death of Michael Jackson brings to an end the sad, tragic and gifted life of a pop icon. But he was not an American hero. Like Bob Scheiffer, watching some of the wall-to-wall coverage left me "feeling uncomfortable with the whole thing."
Thursday, June 25, 2009
It was 1949, fifteen years before the Civil Rights Act would be passed, fourteen years before Martin Luther King, Jr, shared his dream in Washington. It was a time in America of unrest. Joe McCarthy had the nation looking for Communists behind every front door. "White Only" signs were enforced with threats of axe handles. America was in a state of social flux with thousands of troops having returned from the WWII war theater; and, industry was converting from a powerful war machine back to the manufacture of plow-shares.
Onto this scene, on Broadway, ."South Pacific" opened for a run that would not stop until January 16, 1954. For 1,925 performances the audience thrilled to "Younger than Springtime" and "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair". Rodgers & Hammerstein had done it again.
But the love story took place on a island in the South Pacific not far from where Japanese forces were stataioned. A Navy ensign, Lt. Cable was stationed there and fell in love with Liat, the daughter of a Tonkinese trader, Bloody Mary. Cable was torn by his racial prejudice and his feelings for Liat. He resolved his dilemma by deciding racism is "not born in you; it happens after you're born". Then he sings these lyrics:
You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.
You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.
You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!
Rodgers & Hammerstein, South Pacific, 1949
These words probably would not attract that much controversy today but sixty years ago they raised legislative challenges and were even suspected of being Communistic.
While [South Pacific was] on a tour of the Southern United States, lawmakers in Georgia introduced a bill outlawing entertainment containing "an underlying philosophy inspired by Moscow." One legislator said that "a song justifying interracial marriage was implicitly a threat to the American way of life". Rodgers and Hammerstein were pressed to remove this song from the play, but stubbornly refused--even if it meant shutting down the production.*
Of course, this musical and the words of that song only played a small part in the change of America's feelings about relations between the races. But they did play a part. And many other expressions stood up to the hate-filled prejudice until finally the political will of the American people became law in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
But, hatred still speaks out of fear, anger or injury. Ultimately hatred punishes the one who expresses it. It has been said that hatred is a boomerang which is sure to hit you harder than the one at whom you throw it. (anonymous) Touching the roots of that hatred with sensitive care can bring a measure of healing to the hating person's hurt.
Hatred will continue to grow or diminish depending on whether you and I express words of love and truth, wherever and whenever we hear lies directed at gender, sexual orientation, age, race, religion, disability or political affiliation.
Hate--Hall Turner, a former talk-show host, was arrested at his New Jersey home for threatening to assault or murder three Chicago-based judges for refusing to overturn local ordinances banning handguns. An internet posting by Turner said "These judges deserve to be killed." A map showing their courtrooms was posted with a promise to post maps to show their homes later. San Antonio Express News, 6-25-09, p.A2
Gay Rights:--A group of current and former Mormans have created a website that calls upon leaders of the church to end hurtful anti-gay policies.
Defense Spending The White House has threatened to veto a $680 billion military spending bill if it contains funds to continue building the F-22 fighters. Secretary of Defense Gates and the Pentagon say they do not want the planes. San Antonio Express-News, 6-25-09, p A11. But production sites for the fighters are in over thirty states, and Senators don't want to lose jobs--whether we need the planes or not.
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*Amy Most, The Politics of Race in . . . South Pacific, Theater Journal 52, no3, 306 (as quoted in Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youve_Got_To_Be_Caefully_Taught copied 6-23-09)
Monday, June 22, 2009
My bias is that the United States spends too much money on military expenditures. I admit that statement is biased, or prejudiced. I hope, through the SR Report to learn about our defense spending and to determine some solid facts about it. If the statistics I present are not accurate, please refer me to a more solid base.
While I am anti-war, I am not anti-military. I have a son who is a Sergeant in the US Army and I am very proud of him and his service. I support a strong military, one which is an adequate deterrent to any would-be adversary. I am a patriotic American, born and raised, who truly loves this land. [So, when I say "but" do not forget these things I have just said.]
But, it seems to me that we spend way too much money on defense. Money which could be applied to very needed domestic projects, or to paying down our national debt.
For example: according to Time Magazine (6-12-09, p. 15)*in 2008:
- the United States spent $607 billion on the military
- China, France, UK and Russia spent $274 billion combined
- The US has 2,000 nuclear warheads on alert for instant launch
- The US has spent $903 billion in Afghanistan and Iraq since conflict began
President Dwight Eisenhower (1953-1961) is remembered by many for his "Military-Industrial Complex" speech. That farewell address has been used by some to build fear of the growing power of the military and its defense contractors. There is serious concern in that area; many see that speech as an indictment of possible excessive spending for our military on defense projects. But, the primary thrust of Eisenhower's speech was an appeal that we maintain balance in our national spending, not that we weaken our military capabilities. He asked that we keep our priorities in order. He said:
Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research -- these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.
But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs
- balance between the private and the public economy,
- balance between cost and hoped for advantage
- balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable;
- balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual;
- balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future.
Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration. The text of the complete speech can be found at: this site.
What follows is a short excerpt from Eisenhower's speech. Please remember, prior to being a two-term president of the United States, he was a five-star general in the US Army, and was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces D-Day invasion of Normandy.
The first question I raise in this S/R Report is one of balance. Is the amount of money we spend with the Pentagon an appropriate amount, given the other national needs and budget Items?
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Hate Crimes: No religion is without its extremists, including those who think killing others is within God's will. Murder is a perversion of God's will and religious people must speak out against this heresy. --Rabbi Barry Block, Temple Beth-El,San Antonio. SA Express-News, 6-20-09
Gay rights: The Georgia Supreme court recently overturned a ban prohibiting a divorced gay man from attending a Little League game, or a concert if his three kids were taking part--and, if his gay partner were with him.--AP, SA Express-News, 6-21-09, p.22.
Defense SpendingThe military has purchased 183 F-22 Raptor fighters and says they probably need 60 more. The fighter costs $353 million each. --Time, 2-23-09, p30-33.
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*Time got its figures from the Stockholm International Peace Institute.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
June 28, 1969 is a date in American homosexual history revered as a watershed moment. On that date, riots broke out at the Stonewall Inn in New York City in the early morning hours. Those riots are often pointed to as the first instance in American history where gay and lesbian resistance to government-supported persecution took place. It is held to be the start of the gay rights movement in the United States. The following year, June 28, 1970, Gay Pride marches took place in New York and Los Angeles--and are currently held annually throughout the world to mark the Stonewall event.
Suppression of Gays In the 1950s, strong suppressive movements existed with the purpose of controlling and eliminating subversive security risks. The McCarthy hearings led to a somewhat paranoid search for communists and anarchists. The State Department added homosexuals to the list, saying they were enotionally unstable, and thus were subject to blackmai (as security risks). From 1947 to 1950, 1700 federal job applications were denied, 4380 persons were discharged from the armed forces and 420 were fired from their government jobs for being suspected homosexuals.
In the fifties and sixties:
- the FBI kept lists of known homosexuals and their friends
- the US Postal Service kept track of addresses where homosexual material was mailed
- state and local governments shut down gay bars, arrested customers and exposed them in newspapers
- the wearing of "opposite gender" clothing was outlawed in some cities
- professors suspected of being gay were fired by universities
- thousands of gays and lesbians were jailed, fired or institutionalized in mental hospitals
The above material was gleaned from an article in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonewall_riots , reviewed 6-17-09.
Is there any wonder why gays would tend to stay "in the closet" and live in fear of having their sexual orientation disclosed? A homosexual young person, in their twenties or thirties shows great courage in openly declairing their sexual orientation. Even to their parents, who for the most part were culturally conditioned by the "anti-homosexual" culture of the last half of the twentieth century.
I worked as a professional counselor at a mental health facility in the 1970s. I became known as the "gay counselor" because I was one of a very small number of counselors who were willing to counsel with gays. In ten years of counseling I found no homosexual persons who experienced the sexual orientation as a choice. The only person who said it was a c hoice turned out to be a bi-sexual person, not a homosexual person.
Think about it: why would anyone freely choose a sexual life that would bring such hatred and social ostracism? It is not a choice. Think about it. If you are heterosexual, do you remember making that choice regarding your sexual orientation? Think about it. Most heterosexuals are usually repulsed, or at least have an aversion, to same-sex intercourse. Most homosexuals express the same repulsion, aversion to opposite-sex intercourse. Think about it.
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Hate crimes occur when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her perceived membership in a certain social group, usually defined by racial group, religion, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, gender identity or political affiliation.
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US Defense The United States has spent $903 billion in Afghanistan and Iraq since hostilities began.
Time, 6-22-09, p. 15
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Gay RightsThe Defense of Marriage Act (1996) says that no state needs to treat a relationship between persons of the same sex as a marriage, even if the relationship is considered a marriage in another state. The federal government defines marriage as a legal union exclusively between one man and one woman.
S/R Report 01: HATE is available at this same site. Scroll down.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
"hate 1.a: an intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger or sense of injury b:extreme dislike or antipathy . . . 2: an object of hatred."
We live in a time when the fires of fear and anger are being daily stoked. An almost constant parade of evocative words march past our consciousness: Islamic terrorist, socialist government, job loss, foreclosure, nuclear war, baby killers, gay marriage, hate groups . . . . And fear often evolves into hatred. "In time we hate that which we often fear." (Shakespeare)** No wonder it has become sytlish to hate, more than to love.
As seminal as fear may be, anger is an even more potent seedbed for hate: "Anger may repast with thee for an hour, but not repose for a night; the continuance of anger is hatred, the continuance of hatred turns [into] malice." *** A warning regarding anger comes to us from the New Testament, "Let not the sun go down on your wrath."**** Because, holding onto anger, leads to hatred, and holding on to hatred fuels the desire to hurt the object of hate.
Too often we hate because we forget that we are brothers and sisters. We tend to divide the world up into "the good" and "the evil"; and, always "we" are on the side of the good, the honorable, the righteous. We make our divisive issues, e.g., racism, abortion, terrorism, etc., into sides of right and wrong. And we get so polarized in our thinking that it become impossible for us to see any good in the view opposite to ours. Iba Ezra said, "Love blinds us to faults, but hatred blinds us to virtues."
Representing the "other side" as less human than we--demonizing them, making them totally depraved and evil--makes it even more difficult to share a common vision of progress. In fact it makes us slightly paranoid, suspicious that they might do something to harm us. Hear the words of Archibald Macleish, "The man who lives, not by what he loves, but what he hates is a sick man."
With kindness, yet forcefulness, let each of us reduce hatred in our space by diminishing fear, anger and malice.
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New San Antonio mayor Julian Castro has agreed to serve as the grand marshall of the city's Gay Pride Parade July 4. He is the first SA mayor to agree to so serve.
In 2008 the US government spent $607 billion to upgrade its military. Other figures, in billions: China was second with $85, followed by France ($66), ($65), Russia ($59). Total world spending; $1.46 trillion.
Southern Poverty Law Center link: http://splcenter.org/
* http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hate (copied 6/13/09)
** William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, Charmian at I, iii)
***. Quarles Francis, no citation
**** Ephesians 4.26, KJV.